Ninja Innovation

The Career Counselor
Heather Hiles has spent 20 years helping educate underserved children. The former commissioner of the San Francisco Unified School District also ran SFWorks, a welfare-to-work program that placed 5,000 women in jobs. During that time, she realized that we are all lifelong learners and our experiences inside and outside the classroom contribute to the paths we take in life. In response, she developed Pathbrite, an e-portfolio platform that engages learners as young as elementary school age to highlight their best experiences and creations. Each student has a private account in which they can own a copy of what are called digital artifacts: schoolwork examples, test scores, and transcripts. Authenticated diplomas and certificates of completion will soon follow. The content can follow them from high school to college and throughout their careers.

“I believe students should own their own data, whether it is an essay, a video they created, articles they wrote for the school paper, or transcripts,” says Hiles, who at the Clinton Global Initiative last year pledged to donate 1 million free portfolios to public schools and underserved children.

Some 25 institutions of higher learning, including Stanford University and the University of Illinois, have officially adopted Pathbrite. Now with ACT, a leading provider of pre-college and career readiness tests, as a strategic investor, Pathbrite is the only e-portfolio platform in the market that provides electronic copies of students’ ACT test scores.

But it’s not just for show. Hiles employs psychometricians to analyze the data and help portfolio owners optimize their next steps. Pathbrite currently targets those who are in the higher education space, but Hiles’s goal is for the software to be truly mainstream.

“We are all working on a body of knowledge that is unique to us,” says Hiles. “With these portfolios, I think we can…take data about what you know and help you…visualize your path for future success.”

The Buy Black Guide
Janine Hausif’s iPhone/iPad app, Around the Way, uses a smartphone’s GPS to locate black-owned businesses within a defined radius of the user’s location. Along with partners Sian Morson, a mobile development expert; and Eric Hamilton, who heads business development, Hausif, 29, forged an 18-month exclusive partnership last January with the U.S. Black Chamber Inc., which will offer its 240,000 members premium listings beginning this spring.

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